#MeToo movement has had a positive influence on the workplace environment

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The #MeToo movement has been in the press for a few years and has allowed many victims of sexual assault to come forward and address what has happened to them by saying ‘me too.’

Unfortunately, most cases of sexual harassment will not receive the same amount of attention as cases that involve famous people, like the Harvey Weinstein trial that is currently happening. But, there is some evidence to show that the movement has been a positive influence in the workplace environment.

Tanya van Biesen, executive director for Canada at Catalyst states that through her experience of consulting with workplaces, she sees that many are taking the movement very seriously and are trying to update their policies for their workers.

It’s no longer about just the human resources people caring. People at the top of the companies are really focusing on improving the environment. t could be argued that they are only doing it to save the headache later, after an incident has occurred, but regardless,  at least it is happening.

But she also mentions that there is no empirical evidence to say there has been a substantial behavioural change.

The movement therefore has been very influential in the way that businesses are run. Yet the behavioural and cultural changes have yet to be seen, which is really  to be expected: change does not just occur overnight.

But, a bigger change is coming soon with Bill C-65, a bill that sets out responsibilities for all federal public service employers and other federally-regulated private industries in hopes of  preventing harassment at workplaces.

The bill is requiring employers to do three main things: try to prevent incidents of harassment and violence, respond effectively when incidents occur and support the employees who are impacted.

This is a major step forward: the bill is requiring employers to prevent sexual harassment before it occurs, not just deal with it once it has happened. Dealing with harassment only after the fact is a huge issue that we are seeing, as when the cases aren’t discussed until a victim brings it forward, the harassment is likely to repeat itself.

This bill is especially important for the protection of employees, as everyone should feel safe and secure in their work environment. If the bill passes, employees of federal and federally-regulated corporations will have the ability to be protected from a wide variety of harassment. It might also have the power to change peoples’ attitudes towards workplace sexual harassment, and not allow people to use the excuse of “it happens everywhere.”

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